Paranormal Activity 3

Year: 2011
Studio: Paramount
Director: Henry Joost/Ariel Schulman
Writer: Christopher Landon
Cast: Lauren Bittner, Chris Smith, Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Brown

The Paranormal Activity franchise has a lot of haters and seems to have been the victim of the law of diminishing returns, but I can't see what so many people have a problem with. Perhaps the first film was such a simple idea it's just too easy for some people to get sick of. Maybe it's just (as it's always been) cool to claim that the most effective horror movies just don't scare you.

It's nothing more or less than the continuation of the same story with exactly the same tone and approach; video cameras capture supernatural activity that goes from mildly scary to deadly.

Last time around we learned more about how Katie (Featherston/Csengery) and her little sister Kristi (Grayden/Brown) became entangled with the beyond as kids. This is the story of that entanglement. When their mother Julie (Bittner) and stepfather Dennis (Smith) – a video editor in the analogue days of 1988 – realise something strange is going on, they decide to set up the requisite cameras around the house to try and capture it in action.

They do, it does, repeat. Maybe the repetitive nature of nighttime visitation versus followed by daytime detective work is what people didn't like, but I thought it had a story to tell, it unrolled it gradually, and it creeped you out while it did so. What more do you want from a ghost story?

Like the first films, it relies on simple images rather than histrionics (watch little Kristi walk to the end of a high ledge in their bedroom and fall off where something catches her) to be scary, and it does so effectively.

Written and directed by the guys who did that ace documentary Catfish a few years back, in hindsight a great fit for the low-fi approach this franchise would take.

You might have heard that the fourth one absolutely sucks, but if you enjoyed the original, by the end of part three you'll think there's steam in the tank yet.

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